For those of us not on the East coast, Scott Metzger may be known as the guitarist alongside Tom Hamilton from JRAD or as the guy that stepped up to tour with CATS after Neal Casal’s passing. For those in the know, Scott Metzger will be releasing his very first and possibly one-time-only solo record, Too Close to Reason on March 4th 2022. Watching the geese fly by on another January morning, the V formation is always so intriguing to me. I always watch in wonder as some fly in a tight V unit but there’s always a solo bird. I can’t help but wonder why. What’s going on there? Is that lil bird okay? I know there is nothing I could do to help them even if they weren’t okay. I witness them. It’s an unknown bond.
Perhaps I am currently broke and waiting for the pandemic to be endlessly over. Omicron blues got me down. Maybe I’m the richest woman alive with time and creativity. I’m listening to Too Close to Reason by Scott Metzger and I’m thinking about the pitch black night of life right now.
If you are familiar with John Mailander’s Forecast or perhaps Reed Mathis’ Electric Beethovan you know what mood I’m feeling. Visually speaking, Too Close to Reason is stunning. I can’t help but devour the pieces as a whole. The full arrangements lead seamlessly, one right into the next. You don’t just listen to one track at a time.
SM: Oh Thank you! In 2022, that’s the best compliment somebody can get about a record. In our little soundbite culture where everybody has everything right there at their fingertips, to have somebody sit down and listen to 45 minutes of a whole record is amazing.
GW: Did you start off with a plan for the arrangement of these tracks or were you working on it as it revealed itself to you?
SM: Being in Brooklyn felt like ground zero for the whole pandemic. When this started no one was doing anything here. It was at that point that I decided that now is as good a time as any to make a solo record. I’ve heard plenty of solo guitar records that will put you to sleep within 5 minutes, like spa music. In no way did I want to be associated with spa music so I knew I didn’t want to do that. To combat that I overdubbed myself so that it sounds like I am accompanying myself. The goal was to make it sound like the guitars were playing to each other as if it were two instrumentalists playing in real-time, reacting to one another, even though what it actually was was me overdubbing one part and then overdubbing on top of that. And on top of that. It was very meta.
GW: So you are getting in on that technology, don’t lie.
SM: Yeah, a little bit! As much as I hope I ever have to. That was really just born out of necessity.
GW: All the songs on this are just you except, of course, Only Child which features Katie Jacoby. She is the violin for the Who!? Did I read that correctly? So she is the dooo do dooo doo doo part for Teenage Wasteland?!
SM: That is correct. She steals the show if you ask me. Yeah, I’ve seen her play with the Who a number of times now and it’s a major feature that she has at the end of Baba O’Reilly.
GW: Between Waltz for Beverly and Only Child, they both have such a deliciously slow pace. The rich textures of you overdubbing yourself as well as the duet of you and Katie on Only Child really makes a difference.
SM: People talk about the X factor in music. For me, Katie Jacoby’s performance on that track, Only Child, really elevated the whole thing.
GW: Were you hunkered down together for this whole pandemic?
SM: Yes, we’re roommates. We were keeping it in the household trying to lead by example and be safe. It could have been a whole lot worse but neither of us loved being in a two musician household. We lost everything, all of our work for 2020. Luckily JRAD was able to work a lot in 2021 but we’re currently holding out until it feels safe enough now. This has offered me an opportunity to do something that I’m not sure I would have done otherwise. Try to find the silver linings and this has certainly been one of them. It’s the first record under my own name that I’ve ever done. I’ve played on a million records as a sideman or part of a band but I’ve never put out anything that just says, there it is, Scott Metzger. To me, it feels like this is a third or fourth record that somebody would have put out. It doesn’t hit you over the head in any way shape or form. It doesn’t slap you across the face. I hope we built up a sonic landscape that people enjoy spending time in. If you stop and listen, I think it’s a nice place to be.
GW: It has a tender trepidation. It’s got resolve. Don’t be a Stranger had the fade out while you were still playing and I found myself stretching to keep listening even as it faded away. It flows so well from front to back. Stepping into other band’s catalogs has been something you are known for. Quick question on that note… When you toured with Circles Around the Sun, did you play the song Pete Jive often?
SM: Oh yeah! We played that one every night just about every gig I played with them, we played that.
GW: How do you feel about that song?
SM: I love it! I love them all. I wouldn’t have played with CATS if I wasn’t into the music and Pete Jive is no exception. That is a great tune.
GW: I ask because Pete Jive is a buddy of mine.
SM: I heard all about this guy! There was talk about making Circles Around the Sun jerseys that say JIVE on the back. It would be some number on the back like a football jersey and it would say JIVE on it. I don’t know if they will do it or not but yeah. Your buddy is famous!
GW: Around here he certainly is, that’s for sure! It’s so kewl that you guys picked up on that too. You didn’t help them finish the album, did you?
SM: No. The one that Neal was on you mean? No. They finished that. Everything that went down with Neal, they were getting close to finishing the record. Once it happened, they went ahead and finished without bringing any other guitarist which honestly I really respected and appreciated. Understanding what all had happened I think that was a very nice tribute. CATS was trying to piece together what they were going to do after that and I was contacted about some New Years' shows. That would have been 2019 turning 2020. We did a run in early 2020 before all the world closed up shop and then some work together earlier in 2021.
GW: Then you and your fiancee were without work struggling to figure out what next?
SM: Well another of the silver linings to this whole pandemic was the mini-meltdown I had when the phone calls kept coming. Every time the phone rang. Those five gigs you were looking forward to? Canceled. The phone would ring an hour later, those six states are gone. We were really losing our minds there for a minute. I just needed something. I said to myself, if I am going to be stuck inside for months and months I am going to buy myself a nice acoustic guitar to play on, a nice vintage acoustic guitar which I’ve never had before. I got in touch with Carter Vintage out of Nashville. They had a guitar on their website, a 1957 triple O 18 Martin acoustic. They had just sold it but the awesome guy I talked to said, “I’ll tell you what. If you don’t mind a beat-up guitar we have a 1955 Triple O 18 Martin that just came in. It’s a real players guitar, it’s been beaten to hell, and it sounds incredible.” He made me little videos of him strumming some G C’s and D’s, some real nice open chords. Just to give you an idea of how it sounded, I bought that guitar just from seeing this guy’s videos. It arrived a couple of weeks later. It was perfectly in tune when I took it out of the case. That’s what I made this record on.
SM: That guitar is… I mean the tunes were just falling out of that thing. Every time I would pick it up another one of the songs would come and they came pretty effortlessly. As I’m talking to you I’m looking at that guitar. Who’d have thought?
GW: You just need a little chunk of inspiration.
SM: That’s right! I’ve been a musician long enough. I know that sometimes if you play through a different instrument than you are used to, everything can just click in a slightly different way and a whole different side of you musically can be accessed just because of that instrument. This was definitely one of those cases for sure. I feel very lucky to have made that decision. I owe that guy who sent me the videos. I owe that guy big time!
GW: Yes. Too Close to Reason may have no lyrics but songs like Talk Like That are certainly saying something. The Django stylings, the exotic undertones, that is saying something. What were you thinking when you wrote Talk Like That?
SM: The initial title for that song was Talk Like That Will Get You Killed but that seemed a little aggressive so I cut it back to just Talk Like That. Exactly, I thought the vibe of the song was almost spaghetti western, maybe like a Quintin Tarantino movie. It’s a fight scene in my head. I try to write very visual music because basically, I’m trying to make a soundtrack.
Scott Metzger’s Too Close for Reason is a traveling sound that’s getting somewhere even where there is nowhere to go. Asking for a Friend, begging for the words to come out, finding the signal in Appropriate Wattage, Scott Metzger is a grasshopper, rubbing his overdubs together to make this one-of-a-kind record. He reports that he has already written his second album but that one will include drums and bass. If you want to know what sounds dwell in the JRAD guitarist's head, check out Too Close for Reason due out on 3/4/22. It’s a beautiful place to be.